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Title: The systematics of the anoa (Bubalus sp.) : taxonomy, biogeography and conservation of Sulawesi's endangered buffalo
Author: Burton, James A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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The endangered anoa, Sulawesi's dwarf buffalo, has suffered from unfocused conservation management because of taxonomic uncertainties. Analyses of skull morphology, karyotype, allozymes and mtDNA have produced conflicting results; the current classification identifies two species, the lowland and mountain anoa Bubalus depressicornis and B. quarlesi, respectively. To examine whether distinct phytogenies exist, 92 in situ individuals were sampled from throughout their range (Sulawesi and Buton Islands). Individuals in the zoo population are of unknown origin; eleven animals were included in the analysis to assess the level of genetic variation represented in this population relative to the wild. The assessment of in situ population genetic structure and assignment of ex situ animals was conducted using bovine microsatellite markers and a single mtDNA D-loop sequence. Of the 30 bovine microsatellite markers assessed, 13 amplified and were polymorphic in the anoa and were used in the study. The analysis of microsatellite marker data indicated that anoa populations are structured geographically giving an Fsr = 0.3491. Additional methods corroborated the existence of four geographically distributed subpopulations, including assignment analysis, I lardy-Weinberg equilibrium tests, allelic variation and multivariate analysis. D-loop data corroborated the correlation of anoa population structure and biogeographic regions, but defined three clades. Genetic distances calculated from microsatellite data between pairs of geographically differentiated anoa populations showed similar (δμ)² distances or smaller Nei's distances than those observed between clearly different bovid species (domestic cattle Bos taunis and Mongolian yak B. grunniens). Therefore, using the indicator of dissimilarity species definition there was not clear support for the single or multiple species hypothesis. The genotypic cluster species definition (microsatellite alleles) supported the existence of a single species. In contrast the cohesion species concept (mtDNA) suggested multiple anoa species exist. Therefore, although the previous taxonomic classification was refuted by the lack of a correlation between genetic variation and either species morphotypes or altitude, a new taxonomic status could not be confirmed. Individuals from the zoo population were found to be only partially representative of the wild population; greater genetic variation was found in the Indonesian zoo anoa than the European animals. The population genetic structure was partially explained by isolation by distance (microsatellite and mtDNA) and barriers to gene flow. Microsatellite genetic variation was significantly correlated with the sea barrier between Buton and Sulawesi Islands. In this location the biogeographic barrier acted as a stronger dispersal barrier than predicted by geographic distance alone. However, on Sulawesi Island analyses showed that both known biogeographic barriers and geographic distance contributed to the genetic variation, but tests could not confirm which had the greater effect. The anoa was defined as a single evolutionary significant unit (ESU) because although the genetic exchangeability has been limited there was a lack of regional ecological adaptation. Conservation strategies of in situ anoa should maintain gene flow between networks of protected populations to preserve a minimum viable population (MVP).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available